|ashya (ashya) wrote in thedas,|
@ 2009-12-20 07:15:00
|Entry tags:||! narrative, & 9:45 (3) nubulis, @ ashya devar|
Character Narrative: Harrowing
Where: Kinloch Hold
When: A few weeks before the new Grey Warden recruits planned to leave for Amaranthine.
Summary: An apprentice's Harrowing.
It had been, by Cullen’s standards, one of the longest Harrowings he’d seen. He’d already ordered his templars to be ready – if Ashya took any longer, then she’d have to die, for everyone’s sake. There was a point beyond which the apprentices would never recover – they’d become abominations, or simply remain within the Fade, wandering its limitless landscapes without return. It seemed he had been right about the girl, but then, Cullen had never doubted it. With both parents both so weak that they broke the most important rules they knew, you couldn’t expect the child to be any different. Blood told, after all, no matter what Terrastar thought.
The First Enchanter was as still as a statue, his eyes fixed on the apprentice mage, stiff and unmoving, lips in a tight line. Even he knew that the more time that passed, the less chance there was for Ashya to return alive, or remain so. Cullen glanced at the templars, waiting rigidly, knowing they did not want to strike down the girl so callously, but would do so without hesitation on his order.
The demon had disintegrated, leaving no corpse for her to examine. Ashya scanned the distorted landscape but it was empty, as far as she could tell. The demonic aura that had dominated the place had disappeared on its demise, and she grinned exultantly to herself. She had done it…she had won.
She turned to Cullen, the Knight Commander who had watched her destroy the demon without lifting a finger to help her. She didn’t know how they had sent him into the Fade to accompany her – she had thought such a thing impossible, for someone who was not a mage – but he had brushed off her questions, saying she was going to learn that a lot of things were possible if she succeeded in destroying the demon.
He eyed her as she approached him, and for the first time, Cullen was wearing a look of approval directed at her. The Knight Commander never looked approving, not when she was around – her spirits soared even further. “I have completed my task,” she said, clasping her hands behind her back. Cullen nodded, a faint smile on his lips.
“To my satisfaction. I have to say I am impressed.” The words made Ashya blush proudly, but his next words confused her. “Now, one last thing before you can rest. You have to take us both back out of here.”
She frowned slightly, tilting her head sideways. “Both? Can’t the First Enchanter take you out of here? He’s the one who sent you in, after all.”
“Every mage has to end his Harrowing so. Terraster will not expel me out of the Fade – not when he does not know if you have yet completed your task. This is now your duty. Do not falter now – this is just as much a part of it as the demon was.”
“How do I do it?” Who was she to disbelieve Cullen’s words? As stodgy as the man was, he never lied.
The man held out his hand, and she placed hers in his, her hand looking small and white in his gauntleted fist.
“Very simple. Simply concentrate on leaving – with my consciousness and yours. Allow me to travel out of the Fade inside your mind.”
Ashya’s eyes widened. “But…I’m not supposed to ever let anyone into my mind. Mental defenses. Lenora has never stopped repeating that, in all her lectures.”
Cullen smiled, seemingly amused. “Never let a demon, or spirit, yes, that holds true still, and always will. But I’m hardly going to take you over, am I? Or are you afraid I’ll see your thoughts, Ashya, do you have anything to hide?”
The question stung her, the girl who had nothing to hide. “I do not!” she retorted, tossing her hair angrily.
“Then let us go back. I tire of this. You have much still to learn, and you will find that some rules are changed now that you will be titled a full mage.”
“Very well…hold on. I will take us back.”
Ashya closed her eyes, convinced. She had trusted the templars all her life, why should she be wary now. As she concentrated, opening herself up to be able to pull Cullen out of the Fade with her, Terraster’s words floated through her mind.
Remember the lessons we have taught you, child.
All of them. They will prove more important than your skill with spells, tonight.
Her eyes snapped open at the first brush of a presence against her mind, understanding flooding through her suddenly, her mental defenses springing up so hard that Cullen reeled. She jerked her hand away from his cold grip.
“I should have known,” she breathed, taking two steps back, staring at Cullen – no, at the demon pretending to be Cullen. “I’m an idiot – you’re the real demon, and I almost...”
The demon laughed, and its features shifted, Cullen turning into a beautiful demon, the shape everything a woman could want to be, beauty in every curve, even that of her splendid horns. “It is just too bad,” she spoke, her voice a caressing timbre full of promises and wonder. “I almost had you. You trust this man so easily.”
Ashya smiled wryly. She had been more than a fool, she saw that now. Cullen would never approve, no matter what she did - that fact alone should have made her realize the truth much earlier. “It is your turn to die, now,” the girl said grimly, spreading her hands. She did not appreciate being made a fool of, even if no one else was around to know.
But the demon shook her head, lips curving into an amused line. “No, no…if you stay any longer they will cut you down…and you would be of little use to me then. I know you now, I have seen your mind. I can find you whenever I want…I think that later on, we will become very good friends.” The demon blew her a kiss, slow and sensuous and utterly desirable. “Run away now, child, I will see you soon.”
The Fade shifted before she was ready, and Ashya finally opened her eyes. She stared at the templars with her swords inches away from her, at Terraster standing back, ready to cast the necessary spells, at Cullen standing right in front of her. Terraster’s anxiety faded into relief, but Cullen’s expression was the same as always – wary and suspicious, and not at all approving.
Ashya smiled slightly as she swayed on her feet. “Now this is more like it,” she murmured, and collapsed, boneless, in a heap, the Harrowing finally over.